Open Studios & Overcoming December
I think we all can agree that January was the longest month in the history of ever!
As a full time artist we all know that the months leading up to the New Year's can be pretty overwhelming. Orders come in for Holiday commissions, clients are trying to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, and all the while you need to go shopping too! December flew by with the quickness but with that came an enormous amount of Christmas ornament orders!
I thought I would only make several sets of ornaments and sell them thru Instagram to the local community, and that would be it.....boy was I wrong. lol. The first hour of putting 8 sets up I SOLD OUT, and then the requests were coming in one after the other. All in all I ended up making over 40 sets (each set came with 4 ornaments) and my studio was an absolute mess! I hand painted so many ornaments in a matter of weeks that I will now hand paint them every year, but this time maybe start in November, lol.
Here are some of the sets that were created.....
After turning my art studio into a Christmas Factory I ended up cleaning for a couple days, and then rearranging my studio to prepare for my first ever Open Studio. I had never had one open to the public, and wanted to open the New Year doing something new and vulnerable. Close friends and family were the only ones who were privy to step into my studio until now and for the most part I value keeping my studio private since it is in my home. Maybe one day I'll look into using a studio outside of my home, but having it so close to me makes it really easy to just roll out of bed and start painting. I mean, what can compare to that?! (Maybe Jim Carrey's studio, but......I'm not Jim Carrey).
There is a lot of planning involved with hosting an open studio so if you're looking to plan one here's some useful information for you.
I chose to design a couple event flyers on my computer and used them for all of my postings on social media and even made one for the Facebook event. It was easy, and taking the time to create something unique shows that you care. It only took a couple hours to make something digitally and I used some quick pictures I took of me working and work that would be shown. Having an open studio is a great way for guests to get to know you as an artist, and to also showcase inventory that you have that's not on display. I had a couple of collections in my studio and I was de-installing a show I had up for 3 months, so I thought with all the work that was now back in my studio that it would be a great idea for guests to see it all.
Take a minute to plan out how many people you want to come visit, and then think about how many people will most likely show up. I tried to keep mine small since it was my first one, so I invited around 20 people. Next step in planning is what was I going to offer?? With every open studio or Gallery opening I've attended there's always refreshments! Who doesn't like refreshments?! Since my group was small I thought light refreshments were the way to go, i.e. water, tea, and then a charcuterie board (cheeses, meats, grapes, pita chips and hummus). It was around $50 for everything. You may even have leftovers too! If you're looking to plan a bigger open studio think about hitting up Sam's or Costco for platters that are pre-made. Or you can always make them yourself!
Next step is to think about whether or not you will be LIVE painting or just talking about your process or both! When people step into your studio think about what you'll be leaving them with. You'll want guests to leave knowing more about your passion and creativity, what you do as an artist, and how you conduct your business. People typically want to connect with an artist and their work by getting to know these things. It's vulnerable, but it allows others to get a better idea of what you create and why. I chose to be working on a new collection so guests can see my style and how I work, and I also answered questions, and spoke about my inspirations. If certain things make you uncomfortable, don't worry, it's your studio and you make the rules! Once you have the details ironed out you can start inviting people!
Make sure to reach out to your potential guests, either through email, and social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) well in advance. I chose to do mine a month in advance so that it was on everyone's radar, but you can go even earlier than that. Just remember the earlier you put the word out you will need to continue to share the event to remind people. I personally sent out a newsletter through email to subscribers and then made a Facebook event to invite those I thought would be interested. For the clients that don't do social media go ahead and send them a personal text or call. It's always nice to reach out to people personally. If you want to make flyers and pass them out locally go for it!
Finally, make sure your studio is in good shape. Clean up the paint palettes that have old paint on them, and make sure to have everything you want on display well hung and organized. If your style is messy, that's cool, but make sure you have a clean path for people to walk around, and not end up with paint on them! I also wanted people to take a look at all the available inventory I had so I made sure to have a clear path people can view all the works available. If you do want guests to look over available works, make sure to have a couple inventory sheets printed out for them to look at or attach labels next to each piece. I chose to do a couple of inventory lists since I literally installed paintings EVERYWHERE in my studio. (See below for pics)
Lastly, make sure to have a GOOD TIME! It may be a little nerve wrecking to have strangers come into your studio, but sharing what you LOVE with people is always a good thing! Your studio is your space and your haven so do what makes you comfortable, and just flow with what you feel is right. If you get through your first open studio and feel like things could have been different or better make sure to take notes of the things that you could have changed and improve on them for the next time!
I was lucky and ended up having my boyfriend play LIVE music with his band mate and that was really relaxing for people to hear acoustic guitar, but having music on in the background is a good touch and helps fill the silence so guests can view works, and walk around. After hosting my first open studio it got rid of the anxiety of letting strangers into my world and I'm already planning my next one for Spring this year! Make sure to enjoy yourself and to keep an open mind. Most people will come and go and it will be a revolving door, but having people come and see your most intimate creative space is very beneficial for building new relationships with clients. Good luck!!